Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) are listed as endangered federally and by the state of Texas. Preference for closed canopy habitat has been shown in previous studies, but preference for patch size has not been reported. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and satellite imagery were used to compare areas in south Texas used by radio-collared ocelots to areas with no known use. We hypothesized that ocelots would prefer large patches of closed canopy habitat and avoid large patches of unsuitable habitat. Areas used by ocelots had a greater degree of fragmentation (i.e., larger number of patches, smaller size, and more edge) than did those not used. Further investigation revealed that ocelots preferred patches of closed canopy over other types of land cover and that this land cover type exhibited a greater degree of fragmentation. Results of this study were used to designate areas for conservation of ocelot habitat and can be applied to the management of other threatened or endangered wildlife.
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Vol. 69 • No. 2